Secondary schools will be forced to promote the National Citizen Service under new legislation announced in the Queen’s Speech.
A new “statutory footing” for the service, first launched by David Cameron in 2010 and which combines residential trips and voluntary work during the school holidays for 16 and 17-year-olds, was one of the key announcements in this morning’s speech by the Queen setting out the government’s legislative agenda for the next 12 months.
A bill is expected to be introduced in Parliament which will place a duty on all secondary schools, sixth form colleges and independent schools to promote the national service to all young people and their parents. A similar duty will also be placed on councils.
The education secretary will have a legal duty to report annually on how well the service is being promoted.
It is not yet known how schools will be penalised if they fail to tell their pupils about the service, but such details are expected to be set out in the bill.
The announcement follows a commitment made by the prime minister in 2014 that the service would offer a place to any teenager who wants one. It is hoped the new legislation will strengthen the links between young people, their schools and the government.
According to the government, more than 200,000 young people have taken part in activities organised by the service since its launch. More than 20 per cent of those who have taken part are eligible for free school meals and 27 per cent are from non-white backgrounds.
Plans for an education for all bill, which will introduce a national funding formula and give the government powers to force schools in areas where the local council is considered to be “under-performing or un-viable”, were also announced.